Najwa Zebian – Write Your Story

Brave Najwa Zebian shares her emotional story of abuse, and how an old picture from childhood turned her pain into something beautiful.


Abused in ways that no one would imagine. I was bullied for being too sensitive. I was bullied for being too vulnerable, for being too honest, too kind. I started building up walls. I started guarding myself. I started not allowing people into my life. Not because I was looking at them and thinking, “You might hurt me.” But because I honestly believed that I didn’t deserve to be welcomed into other people’s lives.

I met someone for the first time in my life who made me feel like I was worthy of being loved. Who made me feel seen. I was looking to feel hurt and this person hurt me. This was the person that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. That’s how I saw it. I couldn’t imagine my life without that person. Until one day, when he like everyone and everything in my life, chose to walk away. And I could not make sense of it. What did I do?

I went back to that 16 year old who blamed herself. He walked away because of who you are. He walked away because those things that you always thought were ugly and unworthy about you, are still there. So, and I might get a little emotional here, one night during one of my hardest times, my dad pulled up a picture of me when I was this small. I was holding his hand very tightly. And he said, “You know, when I was holding your hand in that picture, I looked in your eyes and I thought, ‘This girl is going places.’ And when I look at you now, I don’t see that look in your eyes.”

I went to my room that night and I looked in the mirror and he was right. I was looking at a person that no longer resembled me. I looked, and I described this before the same way, like a sky choking on clouds. Not knowing whether to rain or be sunny or be clear. I looked like I was chocking. And in that moment, I decided not to give up on myself now like I gave up on myself when I was 16. This time, I wrote. I wrote about my pain. I wrote about it, and as hard as it was, it healed me. The deeper I went into my pain, the higher I rose in encourage. The higher I rose in pride of who I am, being proud of who I am. Turning your pain into something beautiful, turning it into nectar, instead of turning it into bitterness or coldness.

That has given me so much conviction in the fact that our world needs more people who are not afraid to be human. Not afraid to be vulnerable. Not afraid to show who they are. Not afraid to take risks. Not afraid to stand in front of the world and raise their voice and say, “This is what happened to me, and this is how I overcame it.”

And one of the biggest things, the biggest, courageous decisions I had to make was to stand in the face of the person who oppressed me, with everybody who gave him the right to oppress me, and say, “No. I did not deserve this. This should have never happened to me.” And when I do that, I tell everyone of you, and every person who listens to me, anything that is not right that happens to you, is not right. Regardless of who says you deserved it, you asked for it, or “I don’t know whether I should believe you or not.” You lived your story just like I lived my story and I stood in their faces and I said, “This happened to me. You don’t have the right to take away my story from me.” Because when you do that, you’re taking away that new person that I’m becoming.

I will end with this. That man used to tell me, “Who do you think you are?” I say, “I’m Najwa Zebian. I’m a hero. I’m a fighter, and I’m a champion.” So if someone asks you this question, “Who do you think you are?” What will you say?